Before training camp got underway, before the lockout even
started, when we were penciling in names for who might replace Jaromir Jagr on
the Flyers’ top line, Jakub Voracek seemed a favorite. It’s been a long time
coming, but when Voracek was paired with captain Claude Giroux on Monday, the
two of them showcased why many observers thought it to be a logical fit.
Voracek assisted on Philadelphia’s first four goals –
including a near hat trick for Giroux – during a 7-0 dismantling of the New
York Islanders, setting a single-game career high in points in the process.
After getting off to something of a slow start, Voracek has surged out to the
club lead in points with 15.
Not surprisingly, Peter Laviolette is expected to stick with
the same combinations for Wednesday night’s game in Pittsburgh, opting to cease
the juggling act with his lines coming off the Flyers’ most complete effort of
the season. That means Voracek, Giroux, and Matt Read will have their chance for
an encore against one of the NHL’s best teams to this point.
Obviously the Isles thrashing was just one game, coming
against one of the league’s most porous defenses at that, so we don’t want to
get too far ahead of ourselves on what type of production we can expect.
Then again, Voracek always seemed like he could be a good fit with G.
Right as we were beginning to wonder how much the Flyers and
Giroux missed Jagr, Voracek demonstrated why so many thought he could replace
some of that production. While Voracek is not to be confused with one of the
greatest to ever play the game – so this is pretty much the furthest thing from
a direct comparison – he does possess some similar skills, namely his speed through
the neutral zone and strength on the puck.
What has Giroux’s line lacked early this season? Often times
they’ve experienced some difficulty mounting and sustaining an attack – or skating
the puck into enemy territory and then sustaining that pressure. In a word, Giroux’s
line has lacked Jagr, or at least a Jagr-like presence.
Voracek looks like the player on the roster best suited to
fill that role, which he built a very strong case for on Monday. It doesn’t hurt
he has a keen eye with the biscuit, either – his 12 helpers also tops on the
club – and at 49 points he was one of the Flyers' leading scorers last season,
tied for fourth with Danny Briere and Wayne Simmonds.
For now it’s a no-brainer. Voracek will stick with Giroux
and see his ice time increase as long as the production continues, which it has been
no matter who he’s been paired with of late. Previously, he and Brayden Schenn
had been developing some chemistry, and Voracek now has 12 points in his last
nine tilts, including three multi-point games.
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